Those days, going to office was a very interesting affair. Not because of the work. The work was boring, but the thought of sitting in a cubicle with Meera, made the journey worth its while.
Couple of days since I gave my new directions to Rajat, my plans seemed to really take off.
The days that I spent in an engineering college were not completely wasted. I had perfected technique of sleeping with my eyes open during the engineering lectures. I had continued to employ that technique in my office as well.
So when Meera tapped me on the shoulder, I jumped.
“Were you sleeping?” Meera asked with a curious smile.
“No no, no, nooooo. I was just lost in thought. I always think a lot.”
“OK. Anyways, I wanted to tell you that, I think my efforts with Rajat are really making a difference”, Meera said in a proud tone.
“Really? How can you say that?” I feigned surprise.
“Well, it is this and that, you know. He is very nice to me nowadays. He does almost all my work for me and he even drafts the mails for me.”
“Oh that is great. You are really helping him and me. Thank you.”
“I just feel for Rajat, you know. He is such a good guy deep down.” Meera said.
I didn’t like what I was hearing. Rajat was overdoing it. I made a mental note to tell him to back off a little. “Meera thinks that you are smothering her. Give her space dude.” I could tell him that at night.
With that note safely stored away, I decided to take my plan a step forward. It was lunch time.
So I asked, “Say Meera, have you had lunch?”
“No I haven’t” she replied.
“Mm… Err… Ok… So I was thinking of going to the cafeteria for lunch; and Mmmm… Err… I was wondering, I mean, if we could have lunch together. I mean, have lunch from separate plates of course, but together, as in sitting at a table together, I mean, on opposite sides of the table.” A lot of blood had rushed to my head and I grabbed on to my chair for support.
Any guy who saw me then would have understood that I had a crush on Meera. But girls seem to have the ability to ignore the obvious. Meera didn’t seem to notice my stammer or may be all guys stammer when they talk to her.
Meera frowned apologetically and said, “Oh I am sorry. Bharath asked me to join him for lunch.”
Of course, Bharath...That snivelling, whiny man who made my life miserable. Our team lead…
Now it all made sense to me. The plan of bringing Meera into the team; Taking her out on lunch; Oh he was a piece of work. The brilliance of his plan hit me and I smiled admiringly.
I added in a sad tone, “Oh ok. Alright”
But my mind was racing furiously. All along I was concentrating on Rajat and I had failed to see the threat from other quarters.
Meera did notice my sad tone and suddenly she said in an excited tone, as though she had made an important discovery, “Oh I know. Why don’t you come along with us? We all can have lunch together”
I smiled. It was a genuine smile. Nothing gave me more pleasure than irritating Bharath.
I didn’t have to think twice about answering, “Yes. What a good idea. Come on. Let us go find Bharath and tell him the good news.”
Bharath was busy assigning the tickets in our team’s queue, when we reached his cubicle. He smiled at Meera and said, “I am coming, Meera; Just give me a minute.” Then he noticed me and his smile faded.
“Hi, any problem?” He was abrupt.
“Lunch” I said with a broad smile on my face.
“What?” Bharath was confused
“He is joining us for lunch” Meera said noticing Bharath’s confusion.
Bharath looked at me and then at Meera and back at me. Then without a word he turned and assigned two more tickets to my queue.
During lunch, Meera proved to be a good conversationalist. She spoke about weather and her training days and college days and a host of other things. Bharath and I, we were great listeners, oohing and aahing at appropriate moments and laughing at every joke that she said. But even while laughing, Bharath would glance at me and suddenly become serious. Watching him doing it, gave me a great deal of happiness. The feeling was worth the two extra tickets in my queue.
After lunch we went back to our cubicles. Bharath was apparently more irritable than usual. I decided to push my luck a little further.
I told Meera, “You know Bharath was in the first standard when Indira Gandhi’s assassination took place. Isn’t it, Bharath? He got to experience that dark day”
Bharath looked at me with murder written all over his face. If eyes could pierce, I would have had two giant holes in my head.
Meera asked with apparent interest, “Oh is it? That is so cool. It would have been pretty scary. As for me, I was born only in 1986. So I have only heard of those days.”
“Yeah, Bharath has lived out history. He is like a very wise old man. We all ask his advice from time to time” I added with a smirk.
Bharath quickly said bye and dove into his cubicle. I imagined him assigning two more tickets to me, if not all of them.
I was very happy with the outcome of the lunch. I had managed to deliver a stinging blow to Bharath’s approaches to Meera. Now I would have to tread carefully. I feelt pretty smug about my success.
Meera and I walked back to our cubicles chatting easily. As we reached our cubicle, I saw Rajat waiting there. He was looking at us walking towards him and I could tell that he was not enjoying the sight.
He kept glaring at me with a hurt expression as we approached him.